The Final Crisis of the Stuart Monarchy: The Revolutions of 1688-91 in Their British, Atlantic and European Contexts

By White, Michelle | The Historian, Summer 2016 | Go to article overview

The Final Crisis of the Stuart Monarchy: The Revolutions of 1688-91 in Their British, Atlantic and European Contexts


White, Michelle, The Historian


The Final Crisis of the Stuart Monarchy: The Revolutions of 1688-91 in their British, Atlantic and European Contexts. Edited by Tim Harris and Stephen Taylor. (Woodbridge, United Kingdom: Boydell Press, 2013. Pp. ix, 315. $115.00.)

This original and engaging volume by eleven specialists in the field represents the first collaborative attempt to analyze the 1688 Revolution in its broadest historical context. Encompassing high and low politics, religion, culture, and the history of ideas, its contributors are united in the understanding that 1688 "was a crucial moment in the transformation of British politics" (273). Moreover, as Stephen Taylor explains in the collection's afterword, to appreciate fully the importance of 1688, the event "need[s] to be understood in a much broader geographical context--British, European and Atlantic" (274).

Lionel K. J. Glassey opens the work with a masterful synthesis of the historiography of the "Glorious Revolution." For Glassey, convenient and succinct labels often attached to 1688--such as "bloodless," "aristocratic," "Whig," "reluctant," "glorious," "respectable," and "sensible"--are misleading because they "are not mutually exclusive" and do not convey the considerable overlap between the concepts (32).

The next two chapters cover Tories and Whigs, starting with Mark Goldie's impressive investigation of anti-Monmouth sermons preached on or around July 26, 1685. According to Goldie, these sermons nicely illustrate "Tory political homiletic at the zenith of Stuart loyalism" (34). The study is particularly strong on exploring how and why those who were loyal to James II in 1685 proved disloyal in 1688. John Marshall's thought-provoking piece on Whig defenses of 1688 explains how most Whigs "understood that lives, property and liberty had all been insecure in the face of two Stuart kings" (59). In the end, Whigs justified the ousting of James II because it represented a clear stand "against the political 'slavery' of absolutism and the religious 'slavery' of persecuting Catholicism" (71).

The central task of chapters 4 and 5 is exploring 1688 within the context of Scotland. At the heart of Alasdair Raffe's contribution is establishing why the Scottish Episcopal Church fell with James II. Raffe's conclusions differ from earlier investigations, which typically emphasized the strength of Presbyterianism by highlighting the Episcopal Church's internal institutional shortcomings--not least its failure to create and sustain "a distinct episcopalian culture" (89). Tim Harris's tightly argued and superbly written piece focuses on how "the need for Charles II and James VII and II to manage multiple kingdoms . …

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